Auburn to start 7th different quarterback in 7 years
Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday August 12, 2013
There is some surprising news out of Auburn, as former starting quarterback Kiehl Frazier has voluntarily moved to safety, taking one horse out of the quarterback race.
On Sunday, the four quarterbacks were told by Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Rhett Lashlee that Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson would be getting the majority of the snaps going forward.
That left Frazier in a tough position. He could keep fighting for more reps at quarterback, he could transfer to a lower-level school to play right away or he could change positions.
Frazier started five games last season. No one could blame him if he wanted to keep getting playing time at QB and transfer. The move away from Frazier means Auburn will start the season with its seventh different quarterback in the past seven seasons.
But with Frazier going to the coaches with the decision to change positions, Malzahn may have gotten the best news possible.
"As we were talking to Kiehl Frazier and we told him the plan, he brought up the idea that, ‘Coach, I want to help the team anyway I can,’" Malzahn said. "We talked earlier that day and came back the next day and Kiehl moved to safety today. I’m very proud of Kiehl Frazier. I just want to say this: He is a winner. He’s a class-act. He’s a team-first guy. … I’m very happy for him, and he’s going to make our team better."
If Frazier wants to find a success story through changing positions, he doesn’t have to look far.
Like Frazier, current graduate assistant Kodi Burns was a highly-touted quarterback recruit out of Arkansas. But after starting seven games for Auburn in 2008 (a 5-8 season) he moved to wide receiver under new head coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Malzahn before the 2009 season.
As a junior in 2009, Burns started six games and appeared in all 13 for an Auburn team that went 8-5. Burns only caught five passes, but had 56 rushes and 15 pass attempts, much of it coming from the wildcat position. As a senior in 2010, he caught 11 passes, including a 35-yard touchdown in the national championship game, as the Tigers went undefeated. By accepting a move that was best for the team, he left his mark and great legacy with the fans.
At the least, Frazier’s unselfishness can strengthen team chemistry and the intangibles. At best, Malzahn gets contributions from Frazier. Don’t be surprised if the coaches throw Frazier a bone and give some more reps for making the move. Who knows, maybe Frazier makes a key play in a game, like Burns did. He could also be used in some trick plays or different formations.
Specifically moving to safety, it may not be that difficult of a transition. He played safety in high school, and, as a quarterback, he’s been reading safeties for years.
He could also end up at quarterback if a rash of injuries strike the Tigers. There are always a few teams that get down to their third-string quarterback, or even lower.
Frazier was recruited by Malzahn and played under him at Auburn in 2011, but the bottom line is this: Frazier trusts the coaching staff enough that he was willing to stay in the Auburn family and make a move that could help his team at the expense of his personal goals as a quarterback.
New coaching staffs often have to deal with attrition. Although he was only removed for a year, for a first-year head coach like Malzahn, he may not be able to ask for anything better than what Frazier is doing.